Retail sales surge in March

Retail sales surged 9.8% month over month in March easily beating market expectations of 5.8%. KPMG Senior Economist Ken Kim offers three key takeaways from the report.

Kenneth Kim

Kenneth Kim

Senior Economist, KPMG US

+1 212-954-6144

Video transcript

Retail sales surged by 9.8 in march handily beating market expectations for a 5.8 increase. The one thing to note in the report is that the year-over-year comp showed a spectacular increase of 28, and that's simply due to base effects in which sales last march were constrained by business lockdowns. So what are the three key takeaways: First, there were many factors behind the search in march retail sales and they included the easing of business restrictions stronger jobs growth fourteen hundred dollars in relief checks sent to individuals and better weather across the country all played a part. Second, those activities associated with going out, such as sales at restaurants and bars and sporting goods sales, performed strongly in march; also clothing store sales and building material store sales did well with the latter being an indication that housing activity remains firm despite the nudge up in interest rates. Third, as long as vaccinations maintain the upper hand against covet and its variants we expect fogo fear of going out to be less of a constraint for consumer activity going forward and we look for the economy to return to a better place as the year progresses you.

The news is in – and it’s good! 

Retail sales surged by 9.8% month-over-month in March, easily beating the market expectation of a 5.8% increase. The year-over-year comparison showed a sizable 27.7% increase as March 2020 retail sales were impacted by business lockdowns and the fear of going out (FOGO) as the pandemic began to grip the US and the world. 

Many factors contributed to the strength in March retail sales – the easing of restrictions, stronger jobs growth, $1,400 relief checks to individuals, and improved weather conditions all played a part. The report shows double-digit increases across many categories in March ’21 as compared to February ‘21. 

Sales associated with activities such as going out to restaurant and bars increased 13.4% and sporting goods sales were up 23.5% as compared to February. Additionally clothing store and building materials sales were way up, the latter indicating that housing activity remains firm despite a nudge up in mortgage interest rates.

Our view

As long as vaccinations maintain the upper hand over COVID and its variants, lockdowns and FOGO will become less of a constraint for consumers and we see the U.S. economy returning to a better place as the year progresses.